The story of Forest Lake Greenhouses is woven into the fabric of Florence. Thirty years ago, a young enthusiastic couple named Tim and Lisa King came to Ed Young asking him if he would help them start a greenhouse business. After a meeting with Hatsy and Ed, Mr. Young said, “hop in the truck, let’s see if we can find a spot to build a greenhouse.” A partnership was born that day that has served the Florence community ever since.
Forest Lake Greenhouses (FLG) opened its doors in December 1989. Over the years, their operation grew from two greenhouses to eight. They brought on just a few employees in those first years, some of whom, like Wanda Hatfield, Willie James, and Ronald James, are still with the company to this day. FLG has become a Florence staple known for growing and providing beautiful flowers. FLG flowers have provided color and richness to homes, schools, and Christmas services in the Florence community events over these last three decades.
Raising plants takes constant care and attention. After so many years of hard work, the Kings looked to take a step towards retirement and lessen their workload. They approached their partners, the late Ed Young’s four daughters, and proposed selling the business to a third party.
Seeing an opportunity to re-engage with the Florence community, two of Ed Young’s grandson’s stepped up to take over the business. Austin Charles, an attorney, living in Atlanta, called his cousin, Luke Venable, who was working for Accenture in New Zealand, and asked if he knew someone who might be able to take over a greenhouse operation, Luke’s response… “sure, me!” With a background in hydroponics/aquaponics operations and logistics, Luke has been the perfect fit to run the Greenhouse.
Luke and Austin joined forces with their moms, Claudia Venable and Harriet Charles respectively, and their lifelong friend and S.C. native Hunter Robertson, to buy the business in September 2019.
Looking to the future, the new owners plan to further Forest Lake Greenhouses’ role in the community. The future is bright as they aim to serve the Florence community for another 30 years.